Everybody's a Potential Criminal in the Eyes of the EPA

The Clean Water Act gives way to another round of mission creep.

by A. Barton Hinkle
June 20, 2012

A half-century ago, John Pozsgai emigrated to America from Hungary. Twenty-five years later, he bought a hunk of land in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, that had been used as an illegal dumping ground for used tires and old car parts. Pozsgai wanted to build a garage on the land. So he hauled away the old tires—7,000 of them—and the rusty scrap metal, and hauled in clean fill dirt and topsoil.

No good deed goes unpunished, and Pozsgai's wasn't. Sometimes when it rained, the tires caused water to build up on the property. In the eyes of the federal government, that made it a wetland. Federal agents used surveillance cameras to record Pozsgai's cleanup activity and had him arrested for "discharging pollutants"—i.e., the fill dirt and topsoil—"into the waters of the United States." Convicted, he got a three-year prison sentence and a $200,000 fine.

If federal regulators have their way, America could see a lot more John Pozsgais in its future.

Pozsgai's ordeal was brought about by governmental mission creep. The Clean Water Act of 1972 protected the "navigable waters of the United States and their tributaries." But a series of court cases and bureaucratic decrees expanded the scope of the law to cover non-navigable waters, and even areas of dry land that become inundated after heavy rains or that support "vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated-soil conditions," such poison ivy, maple trees, and other "facultative" plants.

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Sierra Clubs Natural Gas

The green lobby picks its next fossil fuel target.

Wall Street Journal
May 29, 2012

The media are finally catching up to America's shale natural gas boom, with even Fortune magazine waddling in with a cover story. But the bigger recent news is that one of the most powerful environmental lobbies, the Sierra Club, is mounting a major campaign to kill the industry.

The battle plan is called "Beyond Natural Gas," and Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune announced the goal in an interview with the National Journal this month: "We're going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can." The big green lobbying machine has rolled out a new website ...

Click here to read the full article from The Wall Street Journal


Obama’s unreal world

Rick Manning
The Hill
May 23, 2012

Chairman Doc Hastings's House Resources Committee released secret audio in which an Obama administration Interior Department official stunningly states, in connection to their rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Rule, "this is not the real world, this is rulemaking" as a justification for not considering actual "conditions on the ground."

"This is not the real world, this is rulemaking" should be the new slogan of Obama's Committee to Reelect the President.

The ivory-tower approach that has led this administration to engage in an all-out war on mining has born the fruit of Obama losing 40 percent of the Democratic vote to a guy in prison in West Virginia, 42 percent of the Democratic vote in Kentucky to a blank spot on the ballot, and 40 percent to a guy who scraped together the cash to pay the $3,300 filing fee in Arkansas.

Take heart, Obama lovers, the myopic, destroy-the-resource-industry green approach that caused an EPA official in Texas to resign after his almost three-year-old "crucify" enforcement policy came to light is still alive and well.

The EPA just released a predetermination on the Pebble Mine Project in Alaska that far exceeds its authority and is designed to prejudice other regulators who actually are responsible for determining the viability of the project.

Even the EPA's report admits that it did not provide an in-depth assessment of any mining project, yet it continues on to engage in a scare campaign about the Bristol Bay watershed that looks like an Environmental Defense Fund legal brief. No facts, just rhetoric and fear.

Click here to read the full article from The Hill


Obama's war on coal hits your electric bill

Phil Kerpen
May 22, 2012

Obama's War on Coal has already taken a remarkable toll on coal-fired power plants in America.

Last week the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a shocking drop in power sector coal consumption in the first quarter of 2012. Coal-fired power plants are now generating just 36 percent of U.S. electricity, versus 44.6 percent just one year ago.

It's the result of an unprecedented regulatory assault on coal that will leave us all much poorer.

Last week PJM Interconnection, the company that operates the electric grid for 13 states (Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia) held its 2015 capacity auction. These are the first real, market prices that take Obama's most recent anti-coal regulations into account, and they prove that he is keeping his 2008 campaign promise to make electricity prices necessarily skyrocket.

The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity almost all natural gas was $136 per megawatt. That's eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt.

Click here to read the full article from


EPA’s Legal Losing Streak

By Josiah Neeley
Texas Public Policy Foundation
May 21, 2012

Alexis de Tocqueville once noted that "scarcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question."

Nowhere is this truer than in the realm of environmental policy, where the courts are often the only refuge for those caught in the path of the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory steamroller.

After more than three years of what The Wall Street Journal called "a regulatory spree unprecedented in U.S. history," EPA's regulatory actions are finally being tested in court. And in amounting number of cases, they have been found wanting.

In March, the Supreme Court handed EPA a unanimous rebuke in Sackett v. EPA. The Sacketts are an Idaho couple who ran afoul of the EPA when they tried to build a house on their 2/3 acre lot. EPA claimed that the land was a protected wetland, and threatened the Sacketts with up to $75,000 per day in fines if they didn't comply with EPA's commands. When the Sacketts sued, EPA sought to avoid judicial review of their actions, a position rejected by the Court. The focus of EPA's losing streak has been in Texas.

A week after the Sackett decision, a federal appeals court threw out EPA's rejection of Texas' Qualified Facilities Rule. Adopted in 1995, the rule allows plants to make physical and operational changes to their sites without having to go through the full re-permitting process unless the changes either increase emissions or result in the release of new contaminants.

After taking no action for more than a decade, in 2010 EPA rejected Texas' rule on the novel grounds that it was inconsistent with Texas state law. The court saw things differently, vacating EPA's disapproval and instructing the agency to confine itself to deciding whether a proposed rule is consistent with federal law (as the Clean Air Act requires).

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EPA Regional Chief Al Armendariz is Accused of "Crucifying" the Energy Industry in Texas

By Brantley Hargrove
Dallas Observer
April 26 2012


When President Obama appointed SMU prof Al Armendariz to the EPA regional post in Dallas back in 2009, it was to the sound of collective groaning from the energy industry and Republican politicos. Only months before, he'd authored a study citing oil and gas production as a major source of air pollution in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. And now he was supposed to regulate them?

Ever since, everyone from the industry right on down to the chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Railroad Commission of Texas and Gov. Rick Perry has looked for an excuse to call for his head.

Then came the video above, which should be set to a soundtrack of knives sharpening.

The video surfaced Wednesday on U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's YouTube channel. In it, Armendariz recounts a vivid metaphor he once used in a talk with his enforcement team.

Click here to read the rest of the article


Our nation’s environmental and economic crossroads

Ryan Houck | Special to the Daily Caller
The Daily Caller
April 20, 2012

Our country is at a crossroads.

It is not a simple intersection of two streets. It is an interstate highway spaghetti junction. There are perhaps more threats to our economic and personal freedoms today than at any time in our nation's history.

When confronted with so many threats, it is natural to focus on the ones that get the most media attention: a national debt that threatens our long-term prosperity and condemns generations of future Americans to grapple with crippling deficits; a health care plan poised to aggravate that debt and diminish the quality of care while forcing individuals to buy commercial products and religious institutions to act contrary to their faith; the growth in government entitlements, which is rapidly forcing us down Europe's twilight path and is widening the divide between those who pay for government and those who take from it; and a monetary policy that devalues the dollar and threatens its status as the world's reserve currency.

With issues such as these reaching crisis levels, there has been too little public attention paid to another threat to our prosperity that is every bit as serious: the threat of environmental extremism.

We're not talking about your grandfather's environmental movement. Extremism has poisoned modern environmentalism, transforming an agenda of conservation into a shameless economic suicide pact.

Read the rest of the article at the Daily Caller here


Twitter suspends Free Market America’s account; Thousands of freedom fighters stand up to suspension!

Adam Bitely
April 24, 2012

In the past 4 years, social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook have become a dominant force for spreading messages and rallying causes. Through Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of millions of people are connected in a way that Earth has never seen before.

Whole governments have toppled through the power that a group has that can harness its message through Twitter. The sheer ability to post a message and have it seen by millions of people is a powerful tool.

In the summer of 2009, hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets in Tehran, Iran to protest the phony election results that showed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning re-election. The world was able to watch these protests unfold over Twitter and the protestors themselves were able to use Twitter as a tool for coordinating their activities.

People all over the world were given a front row seat to watch a protest through the eyes of the protestor. In early 2011, protestors took to the streets in Egypt and toppled their government. This happened in Libya as well. And Tunisia.

In all of these instances, Twitter has served as a powerful tool that allows people the ability to communicate with each over and spread a message far and wide. And Twitter has prided itself on being a key tool for enabling people to engage in their society and foster democracy. After all, Twitter bent over backwards to make sure that it had the capacity to carry the revolution over its servers with minimal interruption.

Yet, for some strange reason, Twitter silenced the official account for the new Americans for Limited Government project Free Market America. The account, @FreeMarket_US, went live a few days before Earth Day and was slowly picking up steam.


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